“They moved together, blue diamonds on a green field.”
Lifted from a page of the book inspired by the Broadway musical Wicked, Shreveport designer Cookie DuBois created a piece worthy of being worn by Elphaba herself — if she were walking the red carpet. The blue and green gown won her the top spot in SB Fashion Week’s Project Broadway event in September.
She drew inspiration from fashion house extraordinaire Charles James and the 2014 Met Gala honoring his designs, specifically designer Zac Posen’s creation for Dita Von Teese. From there, she was hooked.
“I learned about (James’s) construction techniques and it led me to create this,” she said, signaling to her evening wear look.
Amid sewing machines and mood boards, the 28-year-old designer is in her element as a fashion teacher for the Caddo Career and Technology Center in Shreveport. It’s a slight departure from her last job as a librarian but being able to submerse herself fully around other fashion creatives has been a long time coming.
When she originally sat down to sketch, she knew from the get-go she wanted to create something inspired by Wicked.
“I read the book back when I was in elementary school,” she said. “I was very familiar with the themes but wasn’t as familiar with the play.”
She said she considered opting for another musical because of the strong fan base associated with Wicked (she knew another designer would most likely be choosing it), and even thought to go with something newer, like Anastasia.
“The whole reason I’m into Charles James is because of him (Zak Posen),” said DuBois, who credits both designers as her major influences. The design of her dress’s skirt is referred to as a clover leaf. James’s “clover leaf” dress debuted in 1953.
The dress she created is made of seven yards of lining, six yards of satin and six yards of sequins. She first designed the understructure which is made of lining fabric, interfacing, polyester boning and support rods. The actual dress is made of satin, then a sequin mesh overlay. Purple LED lights in the underskirt help give a truly “wicked” feeling.
Project Broadway is the second show for which DuBois requested model Tina Craig walk for her, the first being the Agora Borealis’s Micro/Macro show at The Marlene Yu Museum in April.
“I’m always somewhat hesitant when stating, ‘I want to be an actress and a model,’ especially at the age of 30, but that’s what I want to do,” Craig said, who recently visited Nashville seeking representation. She’s been modeling since she was a teenager, but is now pursuing it in a more full time capacity. From print (she’s appeared in SB Magazine a few times, including the cover) to runway, Craig is the full package and exactly what DuBois seeks in a model.
“She has been the best model, keeping true to my voice, asking if something is OK,” DuBois said. “She represents my brand fully.”
While she’s just finishing up a few creations for Christmas in the Sky attendees, DuBois plans to take a hiatus in December. She’s applied for two different fashion events happening in 2019: Fashion Prize and New Orleans Fashion Week.
“My goal is to put forth quality looks and make things couture,” she said. “I’m almost there, but not quite. I want to make sure they’re pieces Zak Posen would be proud of.”
She has wavered from her beginnings as a designer, recreating simplistic pieces and casual vintage looks. She’s kept to her era of choice but she’s redefining what makes her happy.
“I used to do a lot of day wear, now I don’t want to do that anymore,” she said. “I’m actually saying ‘no’ to a lot of things now that I wasn’t before.”
But one thing she’s continuously saying ‘yes’ to is inclusivity within her brand.
“Diversity is always important to me. All my life I’ve had friends who struggled finding clothes for themselves, and I always have, too. They’d share with me their stories and struggles with why clothes don’t fit them. There’s a market for it. These people are there. I hope to continue to use all sizes, shapes and people.”
WHAT SHE WON
- Brother Sewing Machine (as seen on Project Runway) and $100 gift card provided by The Sewing Shop
- Her look showcased at Christmas in the Sky
- A spread in SB Magazine
Christmas in the Sky: Project Broadway
This year’s theme announcement had everyone scratching their cowboy hats, but ultimately Broadway was revealed. SB Magazine teamed up with the Shreveport Regional Arts Council and artspace for SB Fashion Week in September, creating Project Broadway — a competition style runway show featuring 10 local fashion designers.
The idea was to create a look inspired by a musical production or an aspect of Broadway to be worn to Christmas in the Sky. From The Lion King to Kinky Boots, Mean Girls and everything in between, each designer spent six weeks working on one look to be showcased.
Christmas in the Sky is a biennial event transforming Harrah’s Louisiana Downs into a magical, immersive experience. There are 16 auction areas, 10 stages, 12 bars and 11 themed buffets. There will be a live and silent auction.
A team of more than 500 volunteers produces the event during an 18-month production period. The production of Christmas in the Sky requires an organization comprising of 25 separate volunteer committees working throughout the year to secure auction donations and corporate sponsorships, as well as design and create sets, costumes, invitations, food, displays and entertainment venues.
Tickets are available and can be purchased at skybroadway.com.